How Twitter Helped Free a Hostage in Afghanistan

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Japanese journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan, is surrounded by the media after safely arriving at the Kansai international airport in Osaka, Japan on September 6, 2010


For five months, freedom never seemed fully tangible for Kosuke Tsuneoka. Leave it to social networking to break the brazen barricade of Taliban captivity.

Back in late June, circumstances looked bleak for the kidnapped Japanese journalist. After his April abduction in northern Afghanistan, Tsuneoka was on the brink of death. Despite militants keeping rations high and violence low, the AP reports that certain demands had him sitting hours away from a potential execution.

But good fortune was on Tsuneoka’s side. After surviving those near-death fears, he learned that his Taliban abductors had an affinity for technology, including a host of junior members craving cell-phone access to Al-Jazeera.

That’s when Tsuneoka made a life-saving suggestion. The journalist converted his camp of captors to Twitter, using it as a nexus to inform the rest of the world that he was alive. Days later, he was released.

While the AP notes that Tsuneoka’s Muslim faith was a factor in his unharmed return to Japan, he stood freely before the Japanese media on Tuesday, quipping about his 140-characters-or-less treachery.

“I’m sure they never thought they were tricked,” he said via Tuesday’s news conference in Tokyo.